Peter Hoskin

National security letdown?

National security letdown?
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4 months overdue, Gordon Brown today outlined a new national security strategy. Was it worth the wait? Not particularly. It's little more than a collection of proposals that we knew about already, combined with some loose “direction of travel”-type thinking (e.g. that Britain will “seek agreement on tougher controls aimed at reducing weapons and preventing proliferation"). All-in-all, the Tory criticism is pretty-much spot-on: it's more a “list than a strategy”.

And one component of that list is particularly underwhelming. Brown talks about maintaining “strong, balanced, flexible and deployable armed forces”. But what are his new ideas for doing so? In answer:

“There will be increased commitment bonuses of up to £15,000 for longer serving personnel. And starting with a new £20 million pound home purchase fund we will respond to the demand for more affordable home ownership.”

It's a paltry gesture – and, at the very least, a misdirection of funds. I suspect that young military personnel would prefer to be sent to war with the correct equipment, rather than have the promise of a bonus “of up to £15,000” when they count as “longer serving”. And I'm sure that £20 million won't buy many houses for many servicemen. What do CoffeeHousers think?

P.S. Time to read (or re-read) some of the literature on the new strategy. Rachel Sylvester had a great piece in yesterday's Telegraph; Con Coughlin wrote on it for the Spectator a few weeks back; and, over on Three Line Whip, Philip Johnston asks whether it will revive volunteering.